PLB Artists impression of how the glider will look in the new museum
Part of the display for the new museum in the Alma building is to be the front section of the glider. So in late 2011 early 2011 the glider cockpit was finally taken out of storage and moved to the Alma building to be re-united with the rest of the fuselage that was rescued from Kirkby Thore.
Using plans from copies of original manuals kindly supplied by the Silent Wings Museum of Texas and from taking detailed measurements’ positions where worked out and Tony Goddard the Assistant Curator and Project Leader (head tea boy) was able to assess what we had and what was needed.
The floor base this enables everything else to fit into place.
The first step was the floor or the base on which the completed glider would stand very important as it would bear the whole weight of the completed glider and jeep. Straight away this gave us an idea of the scale of the project and the size of the completed glider. Of course its bigger than your “Sail plane” of today but when you think that these went into battle with a variety of loads including troops, guns and transport with no armour and just canvas and plywood for protection …The most amazing thing is the wing span! Over 84 feet there is only enough room in Alma which is 4 times the size of the current museum to show sections of the wings!
A wooden frame and plywood base was constructed first to give the glider something to be built on and around. Originally the floor was made of plywood and covered in Formica!
Missing steel tube sections replaced.
The gauge and diameter of the steel tubing was one problem but with the help of Thomas Graham’s as much of the correct tubing as possible was found and welded into place.
The steel frames port and starboard were repaired and patched up with new sections. The whole project suffers from weeks of construction then suddenly a whole section appears from what seems like nowhere very quickly!
You can now understand just how brave you had to be to fly in one of these things!
To give more idea of the scale the cockpit was again re-united with the steel frame.
The next stage is building up the timber frames of the wings again weeks of preparation work and manufacturing of panels was required before there were any visible results however the wooden frame of the wing section was put together and instantly gives an idea of the size of the wings of these gliders!
The successful finding of the WACO Glider was only the first step on the long road to reconstruction. The next task was then to see what parts of the WACO had survived the long years on the farm.
The first obvious casualties were the five plywood cases the WACO Glider would have been contained within. These crates are most likely the primary reason gliders like this were purchased by farmers, as they were a valuable source of timber.
As for the WACO, the search was a mixed bag. The wings had long ago been discarded and lost, leaving the half of the fuselage framework and the complete cockpit framework. All other items such the canvas, perspex, control wires and instruments had long since disappeared.
But the skeleton of glider remained! Enough to warrant a purchase and enough to begin this very exciting reconstruction project!
The recovery of the cockpit framework, intact!
The story behind this reconstruction project begins almost twenty years ago, in 1993, in a field in Cumbria. After the Second World War many WACO Gliders were bought by local farmers. The Gliders were not valuable as aircraft to these farmers, rather it was the materials they were made of; timber, metal and canvass. It is in this way that many of the WACO Gliders were lost to history.
It is fortunate for this WACO Glider that our intrepid curator of the Border Regiment Museum in Carlisle, Stuart Eastwood, managed touncoverinformation of its whereabouts at a nearby farm. Quickly the museum staff came to investigate and, using a little archaeology know-how (digging) were able to locate much of the original metalwork of the WACO, including the cockpit, fuselage and tail section framework!
The task now lies in piecing these pieces back together within the Border Regiment Museum, and reconstruct as much of the original WACO CG 4A as possible!
The WACO frame lies in a Cumbrian field
Hello and welcome to a very special blog.
Over the next few months this page will be keeping a record of the reconstruction of a WACO CG 4A glider by the dedicated staff of The Border Regiment Museum, the regiment that used these gliders during the Second World War, within the walls of the magnificent Carlisle Castle.
Using pictures and interviews with the staff involved this blog will be a an up-to-date online diary of the progress the team are making on the glider’s rebirth.
The beginning of something special. The new home for the recovered glider.